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What is Future Earth? Sandrine Paillard: Future Earth is a 10- year international research program that was launched in 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Its goal is to provide knowledge that can help societies meet the present and future challenges raised by global change. The program will address fundamental issues such as: how and why is the world environment changing? What future evolutions are we likely to see, and what consequences will they have on human development and biodiversity? Future Earth will define the possibilities for reducing risk and vulnerability while exploring opportunities for making the transition to sustainable development. Its purpose is to innovate through solution-oriented research. What were the bases for launching this program? Stéphane Blanc: Future Earth has a solid foundation. The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Belmont Forum (an international consortium of the main funding agencies for environmental research), the UN, and the World Meteorological Organization are in the process of merging research programs dedicated to global environmental change. These programs have provided the basis for most of the work carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Future Earth becomes the main coordinating body for research on sustainable development and for informing policy-making. Why was Future Earth founded? S.P.: To bolster international cooperation and interdisciplinarity by merging existing programs. Solution-oriented research will allow the scientific community to make a greater contribution toward resolving environmental issues and fostering innovation for sustainable development. The first step is to offer integrated research on the key challenges of global change and the transition towards sustainability, while strengthening partnerships among researchers, funding bodies, and stakeholders. Which disciplines will be involved? S.B.: The scope of disciplines is as broad as the program’s goals, but it focuses on three main areas: first, the study of the Earth’s system, including, for example, climate, carbon cycle, biodiversity, and ocean dynamics; secondly, social development and societies’ interaction with the environment, encompassing the reduction of poverty, capacity for resilience, sustainable cities, food safety, water, and health; and lastly, the transformations required to ensure the sustainable development of societies, again through the transition towards a green economy or renewable technologies, for example. How will the program be structured? S.P.: The Secretariat, with members in five countries (France, Japan, Sweden, Canada, and the US), will help integrate and coordinate projects launched by existing international programs. It will also support initiatives related to lateral communication, summary reports for decision- makers, capacity building, etc. The Science Committee and the Engagement Committee will ensure that these initiatives contribute to the overall consistency of the program and define priority areas of research. The French and Canadian offices are specifically in charge of supervising Synthesis and Foresight activities. How will countries in the Southern Hemisphere be involved? S.B.: Environmental challenges are even more pressing in the Southern Hemisphere. To achieve its goals, Future Earth needs to involve these countries very closely. One of the Secretariat’s most important missions is to encourage the development of research capacities in emerging regions (through education, training, specific funding, etc.). Will Future Earth help shape public policies in response to environmental change? S.P.: That is the objective. And we will also inform the private sector, whether companies or consumers. In addition to helping the parties involved in key international negotiations, we wish to interact with all policy-makers at the international, regional, and local levels. This is all the more justified as solutions to global environmental change are mostly to be found locally. ii stephane.blanc@iphc.cnrs.fr sandrine.paillard@cnrs-dir.fr 40 CNRS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE Europe. Stéphane Blanc and Sandrine Paillard, members of the permanent Secretariat for Future Earth, introduce this new program. INTERVIEW BY FABRICE IMPÉRIALI WORLDWIDE PARTNERSHIP NEWSWIRE DR DR Future Earth, a Program for the Planet


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